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Thousands stuck on cruise ships after Hurricane Harvey

An exclusive image of hurricane Harvey damage through barricades blocking off Port Aransas, Texas. Credit: Adam Archibeque / Felix Fuent

Thousands of passengers on several Carnival cruise ships are stranded and unable to return to the Galveston, Texas port after Hurricane Harvey.

High winds and pouring rains from Harvey, now a tropical storm, have devastated cities along the southern coast of Texas, destroying homes and businesses, downing trees and signs and knocking out power across the area.

The port of Galveston, where some Carnival cruise trips begin and end, was closed because of the storm. As a result, the travel plans of several ships full of people are up in the air.

Brittany Dessin, a passenger on the Carnival Breeze, was supposed to be returning to Galveston on Sunday to end her cruise through the Gulf of Mexico.

But because of Harvey, her cruise ship is staying for an extra day in Cozumel, the island off the coast of Mexico, she told CNN. The ship was expected to leave Cozumel for Galveston Saturday afternoon, and Dessin said she wasn’t sure if she’d make her flight back home to New Jersey.

Other Carnival cruises also had to change plans with the port closed. The Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor cruise ships remained at sea away from the storm, and they each made a brief stop in New Orleans to replenish fuel, fresh water and food supplies, Carnival said in a statement.

“We will continue to remain in close contact with port officials regarding their plans to re-open once the storm has passed and a post-storm assessment of the port has been completed,” Carnival said.

Sparta Komissarova, a passenger on the Carnival Valor, said she was concerned that her sons, ages 9 and 14, would miss the first day of school on Monday. Still, she said they were enjoying an extra day at sea and she praised Carnival’s handling of the situation.

“I must say that they have done a superior job at keeping us out of the storm,” she said. “The weather on the ship has been impeccable.”

Passengers aboard the Carnival Freedom told CNN they were worried about their vehicles, which were left at Galveston’s port.

The company said passengers will be able to disembark at New Orleans, but warned against returning to Galveston for now.

“However, given the severity and projected path of the storm along with potential challenges guests may encounter attempting to travel back to Galveston independently, we are strongly encouraging them to remain on board as we intend to return the ships to Galveston as soon as feasible,” Carnival said.

Carnival Breeze has a capacity of 3,690 passengers, while Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor each have a capacity of 2,974 passengers, according to the company. In addition, each ship has onboard crew of more than 1,000 people. It’s not clear how many people were aboard each ship.

Katrina Arredondo was scheduled to be a passenger on the next Carnival Freedom trip. She lives in Fort Worth and began driving to Galveston on Friday, but turned around when she heard about the coming storm.

“My sister is there, however. They left before us and decided to stay,” she said.

Guests whose trips were cut short will receive a prorated refund or can cancel their cruise without penalty, the company said.